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Business continuity trends and challenges 2018

For the past four years Continuity Central has conducted an online survey asking business continuity professionals about their expectations for the year ahead.  This article provides the results of the most recent survey, conducted in Q4 2017. It identifies some interesting changes from previous years…

Demographics

181 survey responses were received, with the majority (81.8 percent) being from large organizations (companies with more than 250 employees). The highest percentage of respondents was from the USA (32.6 percent), followed by the UK (25.4 percent). Significant numbers of responses were also received from Australasia (10.5 percent), continental Europe (9.4 percent) and Asia Pacific (6.7 percent).

Change levels

The survey asked respondents: ‘What level of changes do you expect to see in the way your organization manages business continuity during 2018?’

17.5 percent of respondents expect to see no change in the way their organization manages business continuity. 50.3 percent expect to see small changes, whilst around a third (32.2 percent) are anticipating large changes.

The 82.5 percent of respondents expecting to see changes were asked to provide details of the one area that is likely to have the biggest impact on business continuity practices or strategies within their organization. Key themes that emerged were as follows:

‘Making major revisions to BCM strategies and/or BCP(s)’ topped the list of changes that business continuity managers expected to see in 2017 and, in 2018, this was again top of the list. Interestingly, however, the number of responses in this area more than doubled, to 20.4 percent.

New or updated business continuity software implementations are again high on the list of expected changes. In 2017, 9 percent of respondents stated that their organization would be implementing new BC software; in 2018 this increased slightly to 10.8 percent.

Unsurprisingly, given the number of high prominence cyber incidents seen during 2017, cyber threats are increasingly being given high priority by business continuity professionals. 10.2 percent of respondents expect to give more attention to cyber security and cyber risks in 2018.

Testing and exercising is moving up the agenda, with 9.5 percent of respondents expecting to see a significant increase in testing and/or exercising activities. This compares to 7 percent in 2017.

In 2017, 9 percent of respondents expected to see new IT DR, availability or cloud technologies being implemented during the year; this trend continues, with 7.5 percent of respondents saying that 2018 will see investments in these areas.

The biggest faller in the list of expected changes when compared to our 2017 survey was in the area of business continuity standards. In 2017, 8 percent of respondents said that they expected to see an increased focus on certification or the adoption of a business continuity standard. In 2018 this drops to 2.7 percent.

New entries to the top ten changes list are also interesting:

  • 6.8 percent of respondents said that company / organizational structural changes would have a significant impact in 2018: in 2017, this was less than 2 percent;
  • 6.1 percent of respondents highlighted the integration of business continuity management with other organizational teams as a significant change which will take place in 2018. Again, in 2017, this was less than 2 percent.

The full list of the ten top change trends is as follows, with results from the 2017 trends and challenges survey in brackets:

  • 20.4 percent will be making major revisions to BCM strategies and/or BCP(s) (9.5 percent);
  • 10.8 percent are planning to implement new or updated business continuity software (9 percent);
  • 10.2 percent will be giving more attention to cyber security and cyber risks (7 percent);
  • 9.5 percent of respondents expect to see a significant increase in testing and/or exercising activities in 2018 (7 percent);
  • 7.5 percent will be implementing new IT DR, availability or cloud technologies (9 percent);
  • Significant company / organizational structural changes will impact 6.8 percent of respondents in 2018 (not listed in 2017);
  • 6.1 percent of respondents expect to see the integration of BCM with other teams during 2018 (not listed in 2017);
  • There will be an increased focus on supply chain continuity in 4.7 percent of respondents’ organizations (3 percent);
  • 4.7 percent of respondents expect to see increased commitment to business continuity at senior level in the organization (not listed in 2017);
  • 3.4 percent will be rolling out business continuity awareness programmes (2.5 percent).

Top challenges

Respondents were asked to report on ‘the biggest challenge that may hold back business continuity developments within your organization during 2018’. Interesting, while the two major themes that emerged from all the previous trends and challenges surveys were the same in the 2018 survey, there were significant changes in the actual figures:

  • Lack of budget and resources was seen as the number one challenge, with 34.4 percent saying that this will be their top challenge in 2018. However, this was a large reduction from the 49 percent who saw this as their top challenge in 2017.
  • When broken down, of the 34.4 percent who said that budget and resources were their top challenge, 55 percent said that lack of an appropriate budget would be their main issue (down from 73 percent in 2017); and 45 percent said that lack of resources was their top issue (up from 27 percent in 2017).
  • Another interesting change from our previous surveys is that ‘Lack of top management commitment, buy-in and support’ dropped from being the second highest challenge in previous surveys to being the third in the 2018 list. Only 10.5 percent of respondents said that this would be their top challenge in 2018, compared to 22 percent in 2017.
  • 2018’s second highest top challenge is lack of time available for business continuity tasks. 12.9 percent of respondents expect this to be a top challenge in 2018, compared to just 2.5 percent in 2017.

Other recurring challenges were:

  • Other business issues distracting the organization or taking resources away from business continuity 8.6 percent (11.5 percent in 2017);
  • General apathy about business continuity in the organization: 6.7 percent (2.5 percent);
  • High levels of organizational changes: 3.7 percent (not listed in 2017).

Business continuity spending in 2018

Spending on business continuity will again remain static in many organizations, with 51.98 percent of respondents saying that 2018 business continuity spending will be the same as 2017. This figure is similar to the 2017 survey, where this figure was 52.1 percent.

The number of respondents saying that business continuity spending would go up in 2018 was also similar to the 2017 survey. The number of respondents saying that business continuity spending would go up in 2018 was 33.9 percent, with 27.7 percent of respondents saying that business continuity spending would be higher and 6.2 percent saying it would be much higher. In our 2017 survey, 34.9 percent of respondents said that business continuity spending would be increased: with 28.4 percent saying that spending would be higher and 6.5 percent that it would be much higher.

9.6 percent (8.9 percent in our previous survey) of respondents said that organizational business continuity spending would be lower in 2018 than in 2017; and 4.5 percent (4.1 percent) said that it would be ‘much lower’.

Recruitment

Finally, the survey asked respondents about how their organization’s business continuity team is likely to change in 2018. The majority 69.5 (74.0 percent in 2017) said that their business continuity team would remain the same size; 23.2 percent (19.5 percent) said that it would grow and 7.3 percent (6.5 percent) said that it would reduce.

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